Ethiopian party wants constitutional change amid unrest

Dozens killed, many others wounded and property destroyed in clashes in southern Hawassa city since last Thursday

Addis Getachew

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia 

An opposition party in Ethiopia on Tuesday called for a constitutional amendment, saying the constitution is partly responsible for all the mayhem happening in a southern ethnically based regional state since last Thursday.

The demand came in a news conference held by officials of the Ethiopian Citizens for Social Justice party on Tuesday.

Abebe Akalu, secretary-general of the party, said the part of the constitution that focused on ethnic rights should be amended with a focus on unity and national cohesion rather than division.

He said not all the provisions of the constitution are bad; “[…] part of the constitution that provides for human rights are excellent.”

Since Thursday, dozens of people were killed in clashes with security forces and numerous others injured in the city of Hawassa, 270 kilometers (167 miles) south of the capital Addis Ababa, as the Sidama ethnic group push for regional statehood status.

Meanwhile, Ethiopian Citizens for Social Justice party said the violence in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Regional State was not directly linked to the demand put forth by the Sidama ethnic group.

“People that have nothing to do with the statehood issue are being killed and their property being destroyed,” the party said in a statement.

“We do not believe the issue of statehood would be resolved through the use of force,” it added.

The Ethiopian constitution gives ethnic groups the right to self-administration up to cessation and allows ethnic groups to demand breakaway regional state when they deem it desirable.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I think the citizenship advocacy party and other Pan-Ethiopian parties have to be less timid and expose all the flaws and injustice of the current ethnic arrangements if they are to be taken seriously. There is no way current ethnic arrangements with far implication on land and resources allocation and executive powers is fair in a country that has 80+ ethnic groups. You can not expect to have fairness one ethnic group is overruling other ethnicities at regional level while most are disfranchised at zone level and that if they even have a zone. Most who do not have even a zone are displaced errands in their own land by ethnic zelots in search of wealth. It is not brainier that the only solution that would work is a constitution that is based in citizenship and on fundamental human rights principles. The country administrative units should be based on local needs but that transcends ethnicity. And each administrative units and all federal agencies should be required to offer services in native languages to citizens. There should be a budget bonuses to encourage incentive these services so everywhere is adopted as what makes us Ethiopians is is our diversity from the most populous ethnic group to the ones who only number in few thousands. Such system is the nightmare for the ethnic zealots hodams that are creating ethnic strife to enrich themselves.

  2. Let alone individual person, Ethiopia is in danger of ethnic politics. Before thinking about next election, every party should set a priority that the existing constitution based on ethnic politics shall be modified or removed. Or else you parties & electoral commission will be liable for future existence of Ethiopia.
    In mean time, those Ethiopians who made a campaign to stop ethnic politics by law is very great work. So every one; specially those who live abroad shall raise their hands and make continues campaign to support this campaign. You should make your voice on UN office, US senate, European commission and other place.

    Also you should try to publicize and make network with international media to make a coverage; like BBC, Aljezera, CNN, … etc. about danger of ethnic politics. Every foreign embassies in Addis, Africa commission representatives, International donors and other multinational organizations residing in Ethiopia should support the campaign to stop ethnic politics by law in Ethiopia. Everyone has to take a lesson from the worst world ethnic conflict and genocide of innocent people.

    May God bless Ethiopia.

    Long live to Ethiopia!!

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